Irish Republic: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government of the country the Irish Republic.

Irish Republic

Size--27,136 sq. mi. (68,893 sq. km.), slightly larger than Virginia.

Population--Over 3 million: Irish, 97.5%; English, 1.6%; other, 0.9%. 94.9% Roman Catholic, 3.7% Church of Ireland (Episcopalian), 0.7% Presbyterian, 0.2% Methodist, 0.1% Jewish, 0.4% other.

Who Rules--President elected for 7 years by direct vote of the entire electorate. He appoints the Prime Minister and other Cabinet members. The national Parliament has 2 houses--the Dail Cireann or House of Representatives, and the Seanad Eireann or Senate. The Dail is composed of 144 members elected by adult suffrage and the Seanad has 60 members of whom 11 are appointed by the Prime Minister, 6 are elected by the 2 universities, and 43 are elected by the Dail, the county and county borough councils. The Dail must stand for reelection within 5 years.

Who REALLY Rules--The President of the Republic is not a strong executive, but rather a figurehead like the Queen of England. He appoints the Prime Minister but only after nominations from the Dail. The Roman Catholic Church is extremely powerful in Eire. A reflection of this is that the constitution invokes "the Name of the Most Holy Trinity" and speaks of "all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ. . . ." The constitution recognizes freedom of religion but also recognizes the special position of the Catholic Church. The strong influence of the Church can be seen in the government ban on divorce and prohibition of remarriage of persons divorced elsewhere.

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